Really, Bernie As pics of F1 chief are torched in trouble-hit Bahrain, Ecclestone claims Gulf kingdom is 'quiet and peaceful' with green light for grand prix
10:18 GMT, 13 April 2012
Pictures of Bernie Ecclestone have been burnt in Bahrain as the F1 supremo insists it is safe to stage next week's grand prix in the troubled Gulf kingdom.
The decision to go ahead with the race comes despite continuing unrest following anti-government protests which resulted in the deaths of a number of demonstrators last year.
Despite pictures of violence and riots in Bahrain, Ecclestone has claimed there is nothing wrong.
This came as pictures emerged of his image being burnt in Bahrain. They were posted on a Facebook paged titled 'Pearl Family Circle – Martyrs’ Square'
But the 81-year-old said: 'All the teams are happy to be there. There's nothing happening. I know people who live there and it's all very quiet and peaceful.'
Warning: The image of Bernie Ecclestone (left) is torched in this Facebook image.
Daily street clashes in Bahrain and threats to target the race by anti-government protesters have heightened concerns in the travelling Formula One community ahead of the fourth race of the season.
An explosion, apparently caused by a gas canister, damaged two cars in Manama on Thursday night, while seven policemen were wounded by a home-made bomb outside the capital on Monday in what the Interior Ministry called an 'act of terrorism'. Bahrain is also home to the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet.
The owners of the Bahrain International Circuit have expressed their confidence in staging a successful grand prix.
A statement read: 'The BIC has been clear throughout recent weeks and months the security situation in Bahrain is suitable for the staging of a major sporting event.
'This assessment has been provided by experienced figures, from both inside and outside the Bahraini government, to motor racing entities which have travelled to Bahrain to do their own research.
'The certainty of those assessments have meant the BIC has been able to prepare as usual for the staging of the F1 grand prix and is therefore wholly confident the event will be organised with the efficiency that has been the hallmark of the BIC in the past.
Running battles: The well-publicised unrest has caused many to call for the race to be abandoned
'We hugely look forward both to an exciting sporting occasion and to extending the traditional warm Bahraini welcome to Formula One teams, administrators and fans visiting our country next week.'
Red Bull principal Christian Horner said teams will take extra security measures when they go to Bahrain.
'We take the security of all our employees very carefully and so inevitably as with other races sometimes extra precautions are taken,' he said. 'We'll do our best to ensure that all our guys and girls are in a secure environment.
'I think each team probably takes that into their own responsibility,' he said. 'There are other races that we go to that have risks associated with them and its down to each team how you address that. So next weekend will be no different.'
Ecclestone has continually stated he has no concerns regarding safety, despite apparent misgivings from teams and drivers.
And the sport's governing body, the
FIA, said in a statement: 'Based on the current information the FIA has
at this stage, it is satisfied that all the proper security measures are
in place for the running of a Formula One World Championship event in
'Therefore, the FIA confirms that the 2012 Gulf Air F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain will go ahead as scheduled.'
Speaking out: Bernie Ecclestonetalks to the press on Friday at the Chinese Grand Prix
Formula 1 supremo Ecclestone was always confident the event would go ahead, despite the ongoing unrest.
had to cancel last year's race at Sakhir due to civil unrest, have been
adamant that this year's event is safe to go ahead despite continuing
sectarian divisions and street violence in the kingdom as well as
threats targeting the grand prix.
Ecclestone was in confident form before the FIA's announcement in the early hours of Friday morning.
'We are here and we are going to be in Bahrain,' he said. 'It's another race on the calendar, it's scheduled.
'The only people that can do anything about it is the National Sporting Authority in the country.
'They can ask for it to be withdrawn from the calendar. Unless it gets withdrawn by them, then we'll be there.'
has reiterated the fact he has no concerns regarding safety, despite
threats made by one protest group who have vowed to disrupt the race.
if he felt it would be safe, Ecclestone said: 'According to what I've
been told, yes. Apparently people are there carrying out their business
as normal, so I'm told.
guy from Lotus went over to check things recently and he said it was
business as usual. But I don't know, I haven't been there.
I don't see why it should be (dangerous). I don't think the people in
Bahrain have anything against Formula One team people or journalists.'
Ecclestone has again confirmed he will
be in attendance, adding: 'I shall be there, for sure. I hope everybody
is there. We shouldn't be getting involved with other people's
'We enter a country in the normal way. We don't deal with the religion or the politics.'
Next up: The F1 circus is currently in China before moving on to Bahrain
Meanwhile, John Yates, the former
assistant commissioner of the Metropolitan police who has been hired to
oversee reform of Bahrain's police has also said he felt safer in the
Gulf kingdom than he often did in London.
Yates is currently in Bahrain on a
short-term contract advising the government on police reform following
the publication of the Bahrain Independent Commission Inquiry (BICI)
report released in November last year.
The report followed the
anti-government protests that took place in the Gulf kingdom earlier in
the year, resulting in the deaths of a number of demonstrators.
claims the view of Bahrain is 'being shaped by a huge amount of
inaccurate and often deliberately false information being spread through
social media forums'.
Yates insists the 'willingness to reform is real and is being led from the highest level of government'.
He added: 'This is not to dismiss the fact some troubles do still exist.
'The almost nightly skirmishes that
take place in certain villages are a potential block on progress and are
putting those involved in their policing and innocent members of the
public in significant danger.
'However, in spite of how these
events may be portrayed through the medium of YouTube and other outlets,
their significance should not be overplayed.
'These are not lawful protests which are
permitted, but violent conduct by a very small minority – often groups
of 15-20 young men.
Racing focus: The teams are in China ahead of the weekend's race in Shanghai
are criminal acts being perpetrated against an unarmed police force who,
in the face of such attacks, are acting with remarkable restraint.
He added: 'These people are intent on causing harm to the police and the communities in which they live.
are not representative of the vast majority of delightful, law-abiding
citizens that represent the real Bahrain that I see every day.'
In conclusion Yates wrote: 'Along with my family, I feel completely safe. Indeed, safer than I have often felt in London.'
Formula One's key players have set a
deadline of Saturday to decide the fate of the Bahrain Grand Prix as
violent political unrest continues to disturb the Gulf kingdom.
of the 12 teams will meet with Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone
and Jean Todt, president of motorsport's world governing body the FIA,
at the Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai.
The move comes after Ecclestone
claimed the decision to take part in the Bahrain race lay with the
teams, although he admitted that opting to pull out would see them
breach commercial agreements.
Before sitting down with Ecclestone
and Todt, teams will discuss their growing safety concerns about staging
a race in a country where anti- government protests are increasing by
The aim is to reach consensus on
whether they will race at the Sakhir Circuit on April 22 and try to
present a united front to the sport's two most powerful figures.
Confident: Red Bull's Christian Horner (left) believes the Bahrain Grand Prix will go ahead without disruption
Meanwhile, Red Bull team principal Christian Horner believes the confusion previously surrounding the race has finally been alleviated.
Asked, however, whether he was happy with the decision, Horner gave an indirect reply as he said: 'The confusing thing has been the uncertainty.
'So I think for everybody here in the paddock now it's clear that there will be a race in Bahrain next week.
'The FIA have obviously done their research and come out with a clear statement that as a team entered into the championship we respect.'
The main question now for the teams is one of safety.
Civil unrest has so far mostly been confined to the villages where groups have clashed with police who have been forced to combat petrol bombs with water cannons, tear gas, stun grenades and rubber bullets.
However, on Thursday night an explosion rocked the capital of Manama, and although no-one was injured – just two cars damaged – it is the first serious incident to occur of late at the heart of the country.
'We take the security of all our employees very carefully, so inevitably as with other races sometimes extra precautions are taken,' added Horner.
'We'll do our best to ensure that all our guys and girls are in a secure environment, but I don't doubt that for a moment.'